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Sunday, March 28, 2010


So I'm playing Monster Hunter Freedom (PSP)... another long-time buy from an EB "Game-Days" sale awhile back.... finally decided to rip the shrinkwrap off of it & have a go.....

What gave me some trepidation about Monster Hunter Freedom is that it is notoriously hard. It's just really really easy to get killed by monsters, and you can spend an hour preparing yet still die & have to start over.

I'm only at the very early stages of the game, but there is a lot of coolness about it. If only there weren't so many problems that Capcom refuses to fix due to tradition then this game would be seriously awesome.

Anyway, this post isn't necessarily about MHF, but about Capcom. Yes, MHF is hard, but here's something I never see anyone say: All Capcom games are hard. I haven't played every Capcom game, but it seems like every one I come across is known for its difficulty. Lost Planet. Resident Evil. Hell... even the deceptively kid-looking Zack & Wiki is supposed to be really hard!

How hasn't anyone noticed this??? People complain about companies catering to the "casual" market, well isn't Capcom a company that makes "hardcore gamer" games???

Another thing I've noticed, there's usually a level of difficulty on games based on where they were created. Japan probably has the most difficult games (Rhythm Heaven), with U.K. companies making the 2nd most difficult (Pursuit Force) and U.S./North America companies having the easiest (more "casual-friendly" games) Kind of strange.

Me, I'm not very good at video games at all. So I'm probably more of the "casual" gamer, but I want the coolness of the "hardcore"-- I certainly don't want all mini-game collections all the time! But I think there's a way we the gamers can have our cake & eat it too. It doesn't have to be either stupid hard or blandly casual, I think games can be scaled to suit the different needs & difficulties of the gamers as a whole. But companies need to stop thinking so dogmatically; just because a control scheme has been a certain way for the last 20 years that it's fine for the next 20, that sort of thing... has to stop.

Another truism of the video game industry that no one talks about: EA & Ubisoft games always drop in price. Yes, it could be argued that *all* video games drop in price eventually... but that's not always true. There are some that never seem to go down in price, even years later.... Nintendo first-party titles are a prime example but there are more.

But with EA games & Ubisoft, eventually all their games end up in the discount bins of the Walmarts of the world. And I'm not just talking about shovelware, even their great titles drop in price eventually. I don't know if it's because those 2 companies are so big with such a wide distribution reach that they can blow out product for a fraction of their launch MSRP or what.... but especially with Ubisoft... like No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. Yeah I want it, but I know it'll be $20.00 eventually... I don't know if it'll be 6 months or a year, but eventually it will. That's actually the reason I like it when Ubisoft publishes a game I want.

Just a few things that the video game industry won't talk about.


Friday, March 26, 2010

some recent deals

I've been buying a few Wii games lately... got Pikmin at Staples for $7.47 as mentioned. I also bought The Conduit from The Source for like $24.83 or something like that. And today I picked up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up at Futureshop for $9.99. $10.00 is my sweet spot; at that price point I'll usually snap up a game I'm somewhat interested in fairly quick.

I didn't buy these ones but there's also the Steam deal for Torchlight, and the PSN sale has Everyday Shooter both on PS3 *and* PSP for $4.99! Finally, it seems like they get it-- I was pissed when only the PS3 version of FlOw was discounted.... I'm not sure if I should bite on it, I already have Super Stardust Portable...


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Torchlight on netbook... not so good

Meh... I just downloaded & installed Steam and the free demo for Torchlight on my netbook... I'd heard it runs on netbooks, and I'm not expecting it to be smooth as silk or anything, but it's pretty choppy & CPU intensive.... I don't think I can really enjoy playing a game this way.

I've strongly avoided PC gaming ever since I got my first PC in 1999.... I remember trying to install a few demos, like Aliens Vs. Predator & they really did not work very well... I think I had to take my PC back a couple times to the guy who built it.... so since then I have sworn off PC gaming & only do console gaming-- my credo has been "gaming for dedicated devices"...

But I'm so in love with my NB205 netbook right now... most of the posts on Handheld Addict the last few months have been done on this thing, including finding & resizing (with Photoshop 7) any images. I know that the Atom N280 processor is pretty puny in power, and that "integrated graphics" is another term for "sucks real bad" (if you haven't experienced it trust me) but doggone it, I'd love to do some gaming on this little beauty. So I've been looking for something that'll run decently, but no luck yet.

I took a bite on Torchlight because Steam is having a sale this weekend, the full game is only $5.00 US! It's regular $20.00... great deal! But I'm glad I only downloaded the free demo because I think I may just uninstall it & Steam because I don't think my NB205 can really handle it.... oh well...... I think I may play a bit more & see how I feel about it tomorrow...

A little bummed out...


Die Videogame Industry, Die! Part 6 - Entitlement

Part 6 of a 10 part series about why I want the video game industry to implode, causing massive layoffs & putting most devs out of business so that the industry can come back much better than it currently is.

I'd say since 2004, a disturbing trend has emerged in the video game industry. I peg it starting around 2004 because that's when Nintendo released the DS handheld. It featured a new control scheme unseen before in video games: touch interaction (as well as the oft-forgotten microphone)

What Nintendo said to third-party developers is, "here's a new control set... now get used to it."

Sony's first handheld, the PSP may look a lot more traditional in comparison, but it too featured an altered control layout: the infamous missing 2nd analogue nub. Again, it echoed Nintendo's message to third party game developers: "here's a new control set... now get used to it."

I guess I got into video games during the Xbox/PS2/GameCube generation. All those systems had nearly identical controls & button placement.... yet games still suffered when ported from one console to another. But since then, we've been seeing even more divergent control layouts & systems.... and for the most part developers still haven't caught up-- years later now....

The first parties Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft take the attitude that "if we build it they will come"... it seems like all they do is come up with a new control-- be it Balance Board, or whatever... and expect game companies to immediately support it.

But clearly we're seeing that most game companies are NOT supporting control schemes that veer away from the "traditional" controller of the Xbox/PS2/GameCube generation. Yes, there are noteable exceptions of games that have gotten the Wii's controls just right, but those are relatively few & far between.

The problem is, with Project Natel & Playstation Move on the way... and Nintendo just announcing a new 3-D handheld.... these new control schemes are coming out of the woodwork. If companies can't implement controls properly on the Wii which has been around for over 2 years now.... how/when will they be able to handle all these new controls??

There's this major disconnect between the first-party console/hardware makers & third-party game makers. The first-party companies almost show a sense of ENTITLEMENT that third-party companies will just follow lock-in-step behind any hardware they produce-- or that they'll do the R&D *for* the first-party company by improving the understanding & programming of these new controls in their games. The DISCONNECT is third-party companies don't think that way at all (judging by what we've seen already over the past 2+ years on the Wii and PSP) .

This is a really messed up system. Sure, first-party console makers can come up with new controls & maybe develop a few games that support them really well (Wii Sports for example) but the way it is now, we consumers just have to hope that some game will come out where the devs actually understand how to program for the controls, and it's like trying to win the lottery.

Do first-party companies even talk to major third-party game makers at all? Nintendo is most guilty of seeming to release a new control peripheral leaving game companies to go "Huh? This is the first we've heard of it..." but despite the "2 dozen" or whatever number of companies supposedly developing games for Playstation Move, I seriously doubt there's much support going into it other than "we made it, here it is, now YOU figure it out"..... same goes for Natel.

This is such a major problem, and I don't really know how to solve it. I *do* like innovative control systems-- that's one of the reasons I bought a Wii in the first place. It was the promise that such a neat motion control system could bring some great, interesting games. Yes, there have been a few, but for the most part we've seen games just avoid the Wii or are ported badly to it because of the different controls.

Playstation Move & Natel may be "safe bets" in that they are accessories-- if worse comes to worst, they fail-- the PS3 & Xbox 360 still have their core functionality. But it all puts us, the consumers, in the position of being guinea pigs for the video game industry, and paying steep prices to be such.....


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

3DS - new DS to be revealed at E3?

Wow-- the inturwebz are totally buzzing about a new DS coming... tentatively called the "3DS".... it's basically supposed to be a DS with 3D technology. And according to the reports, you're not going to need special glasses to view the 3D. Neat!

[Joystiq link]

That's one of the things that really bugged me about CES last January; all the supposedly-cutting-edge 3D TV technology required the viewer to wear glasses to see the 3D images. When I was in China, I was in an airport-- I think it was Shanghai-- and they had 3D TV screens above the Customs check through, that you could see the 3D *without* using special glasses. I couldn't spend much time watching it, so maybe it would hurt your eyes to watch it for too long... but it seems like it can be done.

Though that would be my concern about a "3D DS"-- would it be comfortable to play it for long periods or would it give you headaches? 3D in general seems far too gimmicky to be a viable step forward in technology.

We'll find out more about the 3DS at E3... 3 months away.... hmmm.


Monday, March 22, 2010

TiltFX for PSP (1000-3000)

Hey, this is cool. Datel is coming out with a motion sensor for the PSP! Called TiltFX, it's a little dongle that plugs into the headphone/remote port of the PSP-1000/2000/3000.... sadly, not compatible with the PSPgo.

[EDIT]: I was thinking about it... remember, the PSP-1000 has a *DIFFERENT* headphone remote jack than the PSP-2000/3000. They are different shapes; the PSP-2000/3000 port is a bit longer & narrower. Seeing as how the device seems to be demonstrated on a PSP-2000, I wonder if it's PSP-2000/3000 only, and not PSP-1000 as is being reported.

[EDIT 2]: Seems that there is a version for PSP-1000. Hit up the TltFX site, and you can order either PSP-1000 or PSP-2000/3000 version of the dongle.

[Joystiq article link]

The dongle seems relatively small, though it does cover up both the headphone & remote port so as far as I can tell, can't use headphones with this thing. But the control seems to be not bad, as demonstrated in the video:


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Can there be too many games?

Yesterday I bought Pikmin (Wii) at Staples for something like $7.47.... and while I was there I saw 2 PSP games: Midnight Club L.A. Remix and Lego Batman, each for like $9.97.

I'd heard good things about Midnight Club L.A. Remix... and the Lego series of games are fairly consistent in their quality. But I thought about it: I already have a few racing games, Ridge Racer-- my fave racing game of all, and the 2 Wipeout games. Do I really need another racing game?

And I already have both Lego Star Wars games for my Xbox.... I'm not even sure if I've finished playing through Lego Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (the 2nd game in the series)..... do I need another Lego game?

So I passed on these games for now. Pikmin is the first new game I've bought since just after Xmas 2009, when I got Crazy Taxi & Blast Off (PSP mini) for my PSPgo. But maybe I shouldn't keep buying games when I still have so many I bought that I have yet to play, and I have games that are similar to them already. I guess part of me being a Handheld Addict is being a videogame addict too......


Saturday, March 20, 2010

watching streaming video on netbook

Man.... some video streams are really bad to play on my netbook (Toshiba NB205) .... basically all the Joystiq family of vids; Engadget, etc. playback choppy as hell & max out my CPU. I'm not sure if it's Viddler or Tubemogel (whatever the hell those are) I just see their URLs show up when I'm watching vids on Joystiq.

Youtube plays fairly well. Vids on IGN & Gamespot can be choppy & CPU intensive but I resize my Firefox window to just fit the video & not show the banner ads and that seems to help.

But Engadget/Joystiq.... always choppy & bloated. It's just annoying.

UPDATE: I installed Flash 11.5 or something, and vids from Joystiq sites seem to play better now, though they still push the CPU near max levels.... I guess I gotta remember that netbooks aren't as powerful as full-size PCs or laptops...


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dementium: The Ward

I'm playing Dementium: The Ward.... first off, the production values for this DS horror game are terrific. This is a really nice looking and sounding game that pushes the system near to its limits the way few other DS games seem to do.... games like this and MechAssault: Phantom War show that even though the DS is not as powerful as the PSP, it's still capable of quite a lot with 3D-graphics gameplay.

Dementium also has smooth controls: the D-pad controls your movement; you can double tap & hold up on the pad to run... and the stylus & bottom screen controls your look/aiming. What's cool is that the bottom screen doesn't require a display or "space" your stylus has to sit on to aim properly, it feels fairly precise & smooth and the bottom screen shows info so as to maximize efficiency of it. My big beef with the controls is that there should have been an option to control look using the DS face buttons. Holding the stylus makes it difficult to support the DS with 2 hands and it gets tiring playing because of it. If I could use the face buttons to look it would be a lot more comfortable to play.

But as great as the production and controls are, the game is nearly *ruined* by the absolute craptastic save system. You can spend 30 minutes to 1+ hours going through a level, die at a boss battle or a tough enemy... and then you have to start the level (called "Chapters") from the beginning-- losing everything you collected or puzzles you've solved.

Another major problem is respawning enemies: you go through a room, kill off some zombies or whatever, then go through a door. If you go back through the door you came in, to the room you just cleared, guess what? Yup, all those enemies are back. That is an antiquated, outdated form of game design that should have died off about 25 years ago. It's inexcusable to have such a crap feature unless it's important to gameplay; some games need to have respawning enemies because you need to get something from them or whatever. In those cases, then it makes sense. But that is NOT the case here.

Developer Renegade Kid needs to read my post about the art of save points... like seriously, what were they thinking with this kind of save design? They clearly worked very hard to craft a really nice game... it's like smearing ketchup over a beautiful painting.... what a waste.

The awful save system & their *stubborn* refusal to allow face button look/aim control... I can tell it's *stubborness* because they could have revised their oversight with their followup game Moon, but they didn't; it controls this exact same way too... with no option for face buttons to control aiming... but it's the moronic save system that really ruins the game; making what would otherwise be a fun creepy experience... instead becomes a repetitive chore with much of the fun sapped out of it.


Dead or Alive Paradise demo

There hasn't been much to talk about on the PSP front for a long time... the only upcoming PSP game I am truly excited for is Ace Combat: Joint Assault... though I am curious about Dead Or Alive: Paradise....

IGN posted a link to a site that has a demo for it. It's in Japanese so I'm not entirely sure what's going on, I've "played" it and it seems to only be a photo shoot or something? I'm surprised if Dead Or Alive:Paradise is coming to North America.... I actually have a game like this, Finder Love-- was a cheap import from Play-Asia a long time ago-- I think these photo-shoot games are more common in Japan so it would be kinda cool to see some of them in english.....

There'd better be more to the game than that though.

In the meantime I've just started playing God of War: Chains of Olympus on my PSP-2001.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Firefox 3.6

Checking my previous posts on Firefox, I thought it'd be nice if I posted something positive about it for a change...

I've only just updated to it, but I do like the new personas feature, it makes skinning the browser pretty easy. especially since my netbook uses Windows 7 Starter, which doesn't even allow the desktop wallpaper to be changed. Jerks.

So far, I've noticed that when you open a new tab, it opens in the tab right beside the one you're using, which I'm not liking. I'm used to new tabs opening at the right of all the previous tabs, and I'd rather have it that way than this, especially on my home PC where I open multiple homepage tabs. Using my netbook I don't have multiple homepage tabs open automatically, so it's easier to deal with this change. I'll just have to get used to it.

As long as it runs fast, efficiently & securely, that's mostly what I care about.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

deciding which console to buy

I see a lot of message board postings where people ask if they should buy a particular gaming console, be it PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PSP-- whatever.

It should be obvious that a potential console buyer needs to ask themselves what games do they want from that console's catalogue: make a list of must-haves games and see if that list is large enough to justify your purchase of that console. Like people asking if they should buy a PSPgo: what they need to ask themselves is, "are there enough PSP games available on PSN to make it worth buying the console?"

This is not rocket science here. Like come on, have a little common sense.

(besides having an Atari 2600 I had as a kid!) I bought my first console, an Xbox in 2004. I didn't know anything about gaming consoles, but I had my sights set on a few games: It came with Fable & Crimson Skies-- 2 games that got good reviews. I knew I was going to get Halo 2. And I loved playing Star Wars: Battlefront. That's only 4 games I knew of at the time of purchase, but shortly after I got my Xbox console I learned of MechAssault & MechAssault 2:Lone Wolf, both of which quickly became some of my favourite games.... and in my opinion, Star Wars: Battlefront alone made the Xbox worth the purchase. I have a lot more Xbox games than those, and a few of them I really enjoyed.

I did my research and had some idea what I was getting into before buying an Xbox. But it's not always that simple.

In 2006, I was in desperate need of an MP3 player. But I wanted one that played video. In fact I had a specific list of feature sets that I needed: Flash memory, at least 4GB, dedicated volume controls, USB drag & drop (no software like iTunes needed), about credit-card sized... I was almost certain that I was going to get the Sandisk E200 series MP3 player.

Then I heard about the PSP.

I knew only a little about it, but researched it a lot. I learned what video codecs it could play... hell I even downloaded & installed PSP Video 9 before buying a PSP to see how well it worked. I researched the hardware to see if it fit my criteria like dedicated volume buttons... the only thing that completely blindsided me was the dead pixel issue: I only found out about it after having it happen to me (twice)

The PSP is clearly a gaming console: not exactly what I was looking for (and much bigger than the credit-card size I was aiming for) but by 2006 I knew videogames better, and Sony had such a good rep with its PS2. I looked at what PSP games I would be interested in if I bought a PSP: Twisted Metal: Head On looked great. Me & My Katamari was intriguing. Wipeout: Pure. I didn't have a big list, but the media functionality and the PlayStation brand had me hopeful that there'd be a big catalogue of games that some would surely interest me. After all, the PS2 had like 10 times the number of games in its catalogue than the Xbox.

So my decision to buy a PSP wasn't entirely based on a huge number of hit games right off the bat, but partly the media functionality and the promise of good games.

I later bought a Game Boy Micro, mostly because it was cheap. Again, I had little knowledge of the GBA catalogue, but I knew it was large so I hoped there'd be enough hits to make it worthwhile. But the console was cheap, so it was worth the gamble to me.

And when I bought a DS Lite, it came with one game that I was most interested in: Brain Age 2. But I also knew there was a MechAssault game, and a Star Trek game. Those 3 were my killer-apps, and again I knew the DS was popular so I assumed the games library was deep enough to sustain my purchase.

When I bought a Wii, Wii Sports was the killer-app for the system: that game alone was why I bought it. But I also assumed/hoped that the future would bring some innovative gaming... however I had little-to-no idea what those games might be.

And the PSPgo had the flimsiest of promises of all: SCEA implying that they'd be seriously beefing up the PSP PSN library. Of course those promises turned out to be largely untrue... I should know Sony better by now. But I did somewhat expect that, so it's not like I have anyone else to blame, or that I even regret buying it. I don't.

But it goes to show that since the Xbox, each of my following console purchases became shakier & shakier when it came to guaranteed, I-can-count-the-killer-apps-by-hand, games.

It's impossible to really know the hit library of a console I don't yet own. There's always going to be some guesswork & hoping that a future killer-app will come out for it. It just seems so much harder to see the hit games for a system nowadays, I'm not sure why.

Like the iPod Touch; I'm really getting interested in it as a media player and a game player. A lot of people crap on it for games, but some people really like it for gaming. And it has a HUGE library of games-- sure a lot of them may be junk but with so many games and growing, there must be some gems in there. But I can't know for sure.

So yeah, to wannabe console/handheld owners I'd always suggest making a list of games they want from that system and deciding that way. But there are other factors like media playback and unfamiliarity with a system I don't own that make it not that easy to really decide. Maybe I should be more strict and just pass up all consoles that don't have a solid "these are all the killer-apps for it" list. Maybe gaming overall isn't as good as it used to be. Maybe my expectations are too high. I don't know. It should be about the games, but it isn't always. Not for me.


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